Clarence Burdis

George Medal recipient

With complete disregard to their own safety…

With what remained of the factory likely to collapse at any moment, the number of those working amongst the rubble and debris was kept to a minimum. This caused disquiet amongst the local men, desperate to help but cordoned off from the site by ARP personnel.

As the hours ticked by, those working at acute risk to their own safety found reward in the rescue of several trapped men, women and children.

The bravery of several of these rescuers was later officially recognised.

Clarence Burdis

Clarence Burdis

Mr Clarence Burdis – Awarded the George Medal

Clarence Burdis cut a second hole through a thick wall to reach another smashed room in the basement. Here the casualties were lying amidst the splintered remains of their bunk beds. For four gruelling hours he slowly moved casualties from their shattered tomb. Finally he collapsed with exhaustion, yet when he recovered, insisted on going back into the ruins and pulled out several more people.

Larry Burdis

Clarence’s son Larry, holding his father’s medals.






(image: Clarence Burdis with his wife Charlotte)

Medal Citations

The medal citations for Clarence Burdiss, George Newstead and Norman Darling Black are given in The London Gazette, issue 35226, 22nd July 1941.

Awarded the George Medal:
A.R.P. Rescue Party, Tynemouth
Clarence Burdis – Leader
George Newstead – Leader

Awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division)
First Aid Party, Tynemouth
Norman Darling Black – Member,


A building suffered a direct hit and people were trapped in the basement. Newstead cut a hole through the wall to a room containing a number of casualties and arranged for their removal. One man was trapped by his leg under tons of debris. Medical assistance was called and an anaesthetic administered to the casualty with a view to amputating his foot, but in the meantime Newstead, at great risk to his life, succeeded in getting into position a small jack and relieved the pressure on the man’s foot. By cutting away the boot he succeeded in dragging the man to comparative safety. Newstead, who was aware that at any moment during the rescue operation the building might have collapsed, showed outstanding courage. Burdis cut through a thick wall and entered another room in the basement in which a number of casualties were lying interlaced with timber from bunks which had collapsed. In spite of the great confusion Burdis extricated these casualties one by one, passing them through the small hole to other members of the Squad. He worked unaided in a confined space for nearly four hours until he partially collapsed through exhaustion. On recovery, he insisted on returning to the basement and, by his gallant efforts, saved a number of lives. Black made sustained and strenuous efforts to free injured persons from the debris and rendered first aid. He displayed courage and devotion to duty with complete disregard of his own safety.

The George Medal

George Medal

The British Empire Medal


The Medals

The George Cross is the highest civilian award for gallantry followed by in order of merit, The George Medal. The George Cross and the George Medal are awarded for similar acts of gallantry (i.e. any act of bravery not in the face of the enemy). The difference is in the degree of bravery displayed (in a similar way to the distinction made between the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross in battle). Both can be awarded to civilians or service personnel alike. Many servicemen and women have been awarded the GM and many civilians the GC. The Royal Warrant authorising the award of the George Medal was published in January 1941. The medal is named after George VI. In the period 1940-1945, 724 civilians were awarded the George Medal. The British Empire Medal Established in 1922 to replace the Medal of the Order of the British Empire. The British Empire Medal is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown

British Empire Medal image - By Robert Prummel (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (] via Wikimedia Commons

George Medal - By Ministry of Defence [OGL (] via Wikimedia Commons